KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Iowa poultry official reacts to USDA stockpiling bird flu vaccine


January 26th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Even before the recent avian influenza outbreak in Indiana, the U-S-D-A began stockpiling up to 500-million doses of a new vaccine for bird flu. Some Iowa poultry industry officials oppose vaccinating because of export market consequences. Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Poultry Association, says even with those concerns, it’s good to have that supply of vaccine if it’s needed.

“None of us want to be in a position where we’re forced to make the decision about vaccination because it certainly comes with a lot of complicating factors,” Olson says. “If we happen to have another break this spring, it’s good that USDA is planning in advance.” He says the biggest concern about vaccinating is with potential trade partners.

“One of the considerations is clearly international markets,” Olson says. “If we vaccinate for avian influenza in the U.S. and we’re not able to maintain regionality, then foreign countries will consider our poultry population to be endemic with avian influenza.” Olson says instead of relying on vaccine, Iowa’s poultry producers are ramping up their biosecurity efforts to prevent the disease from reoccurring in the spring.

“We certainly are planning for the spring,” Olson says. “Our farms are doing a great job of improving biosecurity, in some cases, making very expensive capital improvements to keep security on their farms and try to keep intruders like foreign birds out.”

A total of 77 poultry operations statewide had bird flu outbreaks last year and more than 31-million chickens and turkeys were wiped out in Iowa, which was by far the worst-hit state. Losses in Iowa are estimated near one-billion dollars. Operations in 14 other states were also infected, claiming 50-million birds and more than three-billion dollars.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa egg farms slowly recovering from last year’s bird flu

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 25th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa egg farms are bouncing back from last year’s bird flu outbreak but rebuilding flocks with millions of new egg layers is taking time as the industry predicted. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday shows Iowa’s population of egg-laying hens at 37.9 million in December, up 6 percent from November but still 37 percent below the year-ago figure.

Iowa farms produced 812 million eggs, up 11 percent from the previous month but down 44 percent from December 2014. The bird flu last summer killed 48 million birds nationwide including 24 million Iowa laying hens. Farmers have replenished flocks but expect it to take most of this year to reach full production again.

U.S. egg production in December was 8 billion, down 8 percent from a year ago.

USDA says Iowa has about 1.22M cattle on feed


January 23rd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says the number of cattle and calves in large Iowa feedlots is unchanged from last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with capacities of 1,000 or more head totaled about 1.22 million on Jan. 1 – the same total as Jan. 1, 2015. However, the total is up 3 percent from December.

Cattle placements during December totaled 185,000 head, a decrease of 16 percent from November and down 8 percent from December 2014. About 142,000 fed cattle were marketed for the month of December, up 14 percent from the previous year.

Dispute over ‘grain leg’ near Carroll airport headed to court

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 22nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Carroll Airport Commission is going to court to try to resolve a long-running dispute with a local farmer. Airport officials say the grain handling tower Loren Danner built on his farm south of the Carroll airport is a flight hazard. It’s called a “grain leg” and it’s a permanent, upright tower that funnels corn and soybeans into a bin. Commission member Greg Siemann said “We were not notified and were not aware of its planned construction or construction until after the grain leg was fully constructed,” Siemann says. “That was done in a matter of days.”

The lack of notification is a violation of local ordinances, according to Siemann. Kevin Wittrock, who is also a member of the Carroll Airport Commission, says the structure is obscured under a plane’s left wing as it comes in to land on two of the runways. “If you fly a standard flight pattern to land on the runway, oddly enough you’ll go right over that grain leg,” Wittrock says. “…We feel it’s going to be a hazard.” A trial date has been set for June 28th.

Commission members say they’re not necessarily looking for complete removal of the structure and reducing its height by at least 61 feet would answer their concerns. Danner says the grain leg cost about 300-thousand dollars to build and lowering the system by just 40 feet would cost him 200-thousand dollars because of the conveyors he’d have to install to handle his grain.

Danner obtained a special permit from Carroll County officials for construction of the grain handling tower. In 2013, a county official said the F-A-A had determined the tower could remain if it was properly lit at night.

(Radio Iowa)

IA Ag Sec. Northey: Grants available to help promote specialty crops


January 22nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Friday) announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is accepting applications for grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the program, has reported that Iowa will receive $244,352.23 in funding this year.

Grant funds can be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community based organizations are all eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In addition, single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months (2 ½ years). “Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.

Proposals must be received by IDALS on or before 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 2016. For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department’s web site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.

The Department is again establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the Department. Those interested in participating in the Review Committee should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience, and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.

Applications to participate in the Reviewer Committee are due Friday, March 25, 2016 by 4 p.m. In addition, to ensure that funds are used in the most efficient manner possible, the Department is asking specialty crop stakeholders and organizations to submit public comments on program priorities. The comments will help the Department identify priorities; establish the criteria used to evaluate the projects proposed for funding, and to determine how the reviews are conducted.

Iowans interested in submitting comments about the program can do so online by emailing HorticultureAndFarmersMarkets@IowaAgriculture.gov or by mail to Horticulture and Farmers Market Bureau, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, 502 East 9th, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. Comments received by May 2, 2016 will be presented to the review committee to assist in prioritizing projects.

Midwest, Plains bankers had dire view of rural economy

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A survey shows some bankers had a dire view of the rural economy in their 10 Western and Plains states. A report released today (Thursday) says January’s Rural Mainstreet Index plunged to 34.8 from 41.5 in December. It’s the lowest overall index figure since August 2009. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey’s indexes suggests that factor will decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the monthly survey of rural bankers and says it’s the fifth straight month for a decline. He again blames lower prices for agriculture and energy commodities and downturns in manufacturing.

The farmland and ranchland price index dropped to 23.9 in January from December’s 28.8. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

DNR warns of continuing issues with ice on lakes and rivers

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Department of Natural Resources is warning everyone to be careful out on the ice covering Iowa’s lakes and rivers after four snowmobiles recently went into the water at the Great Lakes. Conservation officer Steve Reighard, says two sets of snowmobilers got a chilly dip in the water. “There’s a couple of gentlemen that actually rode snowmobiles into it at night, Thursday night. No injuries, they were able to get out. No damage to the sleds other than they had to dry those out also. And then again Saturday morning, two individuals went through,” Reighard says. “And Saturday morning with the cold temperatures there was a thin skim of ice over the open water. We got a little bit of snow cover so it looked like it was solid out there, and they drove out onto that thin ice and broke through. There again, they weren’t injured.”

He says conditions have been different on the lakes this years as the water was high at the start of winter when the lakes started to freeze and continued flowing. “With that current flowing through there, it’s keeping that water open or the ice extremely thin,” Reighard explains. “Plus, the ice never does freeze evenly. There’s a lot of variability out there — I’ve seen it as thick as 13 inches on West Okoboji, and also as thin as three in the last week.”

He says the bridges around the Great Lakes pinches down the flow of the water, which makes it faster and less likely to freeze. Reighard says there are similar situations across the state with the ice this winter. And he says no matter where you go on the ice, the one constant is there is no guarantee of perfectly frozen ice. “It’s not like the ice cubes in your tray in your freezer — and even if you look at those — they don’t always freeze the same either,” he says. “There’s just to many variabilities with water depth, on obstacles underneath the ice, springs, currents, all of those things come into effect.”

Some people are driving vehicles onto the ice to fish, and Reighard says that’s something he never recommends because of the uncertainty of the ice depth.

(Radio Iowa)

Montgomery County Extension Council Elects Officers

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Four officers were elected during the Montgomery County Extension Council organizational meeting held Jan. 18th. The nine-member council annually elects officers to comply with Iowa law. Joe Jardon, of Red Oak, is the re-elected chairperson. Jardon will preside at all meetings of the extension council, have authority to call special meetings and perform duties performed and exercised by a chairperson of a board of directors of a corporation. Mike Olson, of Red Oak, was elected vice chairperson.

Darcy Dalton, of Villisca, was elected secretary; and has the responsibility of keeping the minutes of all extension council meetings and signing required papers for the council. The council elected Bill Drey, of Red Oak, to the treasurer position. The treasurer receives, deposits, has charge of all of the funds of the extension council, and pays and disburses funds. The treasurer insures an accurate record of receipts and disbursements and submits reports to the extension council.

The council is the county governing body of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. They hire county staff, manages the county extension budget of approximately $366,000, and helps determine programming. In partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the council provides educational opportunities that bring university resources to the needs of the county and region. Local extension programs include 4-H, after school programs, Master Gardeners, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers

The Montgomery County Extension office is located in Red Oak.

Cass County Extension Report 1-20-2016

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

January 20th, 2016 by Jim Field

w/Kate Olson.


USDA: Indiana bird flu outbreak is believed contained, Iowans can relax

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Poultry producers in Iowa are on high alert as an outbreak of avian influenza is being dealt with in Indiana. At least ten turkey farms in a single Indiana county are reported infected. T-J Myers, an administrator at the U-S-D-A’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the outbreaks appears to be contained. “There’s been a lot of good work to increase our preparatory efforts at the federal side, the state side and the industry side,” Myers says. “Industry and poultry producers have been doing a lot to strengthen their biosecurity so we are hopeful that as we respond very quickly to this virus that we can get it contained.”

The Indiana situation is being closely monitored and Myers says the agency is not calling for vaccinations. “Our vaccination policy is to only use it if we feel that it would be an important adjunct to our stamping out policy,” he says. “At this point, we are not looking to do any sort of vaccination.” While the bird flu outbreak appears to have spread to multiple farms in Indiana, they are all in close proximity within one county and officials believe the spread has been halted.

Given that, vaccinations shouldn’t be needed. “That’s something that we would only use if we felt that it was necessary to assist us in containing a spreading virus,” Myers says, “which we are not looking at right now.” A total of 77 poultry operations in Iowa had bird flu outbreaks last spring and more than 31-million chickens and turkeys were wiped out in Iowa, which was by far the worst-hit state.

Losses in Iowa alone from the outbreak may total one-billion dollars. No new cases of bird flu have been reported in Iowa since last June and the final quarantine was lifted on December 1st.

(Radio Iowa)